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Government announces massive step backwards in Inclusive Education by investing in segregated schools

Summary: 
The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities states students shall receive the support required, within the general education system, to facilitate their effective education.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

October 6, 2016

New Westminster, BC-The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities states students shall receive the support required, within the general education system, to facilitate their effective education.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016, the Government of BC announced $1 million to fund a total of 15 Special Education Schools (SES) throughout the province.

“This funding announcement sends a dangerous message that students with special needs belong elsewhere and cannot be supported in their neighbourhood school,” said Faith Bodnar, Executive Director of Inclusion BC.

“It’s a massive slide backwards in best practice as well as a drain on our public education system.”

Special Education Schools are designed to provide educational services to a small percentage of students who have special needs.

Inclusion BC calls for the same high level of resources, for students and teachers to be successful within the public education system.

Education Minister Mike Bernier said in a news release “Our expanded support for special education schools is expanding choice for parents and support for some of our most vulnerable children.”

Many families report to Inclusion BC that they have reluctantly removed their children from the public system because of a lack of the very supports that the Ministry of Education acknowledges they need.

“This shows a total lack of commitment to the 58,000 students in BC who require these supports but whose families either cannot afford private school or who are committed to an inclusive public education for their children,” said Bodnar.

The Ministry announcement includes a list of the 15 designated SES along with a description of what each has to offer. These include attributes such as:

  • highly skilled and continuously trained teachers
  • access to support staff such as speech and language therapists and
  • professional collaboration both in school and community based

These are all elements of a quality education that should be available to ALL learners within the public school system in BC.

A 2012 Supreme Court decision known as “the Moore case,” is a perfect example of how a school district let a student with a learning disability down. The family was told to send their student to a private school at their own cost. The Supreme Court of Canada ruled that students with severe learning disabilities are entitled to equal opportunity to access public education.

It is ironic this funding announcement comes during Community Inclusion Month where thousands of British Columbians are celebrating full inclusion and communities are encouraged to address barriers for people with intellectual disabilities.

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For 61 years Inclusion BC and our federation has led the shift from institutions to full, inclusive lives in the community. We promote ability, build awareness and advance rights. Our collective work and leadership continues to build more inclusive communities, address barriers to full citizenship and shape progressive policy and programs.

Media Contact:
Faith Bodnar
Executive Director of Inclusion BC
604.777.9100 Ext. 516
604-764-2591 cell
fbodnar@inclusionbc.org